Blacks, Jews, Civil Rights, & A Banana in the Tailpipe

Sacred Cow: (an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism (with reference to the Hindus’ respect for the cow as a sacred animal).

Sometimes I get a lot of flack for not worshiping sacred cows. I’m a 52 year old Black man from East St. Louis, Illinois. I have my sensibilities for sure. But I’ve made it a practice to check them before drawing harsh conclusions. In other words, I value substance over style when it comes to the real issues facing Black folk or Americans for that matter. One of my favorite words is ‘nuance,.’ defined as (sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value)

Nuance isn’t a refusal to point out black and white facts. It is understanding time, place, circumstance and relevance when it comes to discussing a particular matter. A rule of engagement. Nuance requires work and intellectual honesty. Not an easy thing in society. In my community we experienced this with our discussions on Bill Cosby. Many of my people could not wrap their heads around accepting that a man who provided so much entertainment along with his America’s Dad image could do the things he’s been convicted of doing. Others just didn’t care. Because he was a Black icon of sorts, they considered him to be the victim. Now we are having this same debate with R. Kelly. Some of us are appalled and disgusted with what we’ve heard in the streets over the years. The Lifetime series brought a scathing in-depth look that I found hard to stomach. Yet I’m pushing back on Black people who feel Kelly is the victim. Some are once again bringing up White men who are accused sex abusers or pedophiles as a reason to let the ‘Pied Piper’ escape our judgment. I call bullshit on it all! Nuance say’s we can recognize talent without lying about the dastardly deeds of the talented. I’ve had conversations with friends over the years and we agreed on this premise: R. Kelly knows how to make a hit. The numbers back that up. With this additional information, it is also evident that this talented individual is a narcissistic, manipulative, and predatory human being. How one chooses to compartmentalize this dynamic is up to them. Long ago I refused to listen to his music. If someone else chooses to, it’s their right. But I don’t want to hear shit about what White people do as a reason.

This article isn’t about R. Kelly, however. It’s about people and their sacred cows. Each group whether by race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation all have them. There are none that are irredeemably flawed, nor pristinely perfect. I’ve criticized Black and White folk, the LBGTQ community, PETA, Christians, Muslims, Atheist, Democrats and Republicans. Why? Because sometimes folk just be doing too damn much! It’s the nature of having humans in your group. Show me a group that doesn’t need to be ‘checked’ sometimes, and I’ll show you a big fat Moo Moo that needs a ceremonial machete.

One group that seems to escape the blade in these United States are my Jewish brethren. I’m not talking about from Right wing extremist who hate Jews for the sake of hating them. I’m not talking about The Nation of Islam or Louis Farrakhan. I’m referring to the mainstream activist groups who seem to be the gatekeepers in suppressing voices and opinions which they do not agree with. In the latest example I site The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama. In September of 2018 the Board of Directors elected to give it’s annual Fred L. Shuttlesworth award to political activist, academic and author Angela Davis. In December, The Southern Jewish Life Magazine criticized the museum citing among other things Davis’ critique of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Soon afterwards, the Civil Rights Institute not only rescinded the award, it cancelled the gala altogether. 

I call bullshit on these actions on so many levels. First on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for allowing someone outside of it’s community to tell them who to honor, but I’ll get back to that.

Before I go on let me start prefacing lest I be labeled an anti-Semite. If I have a friend from Palestine I don’t know it. I do, however, have several Jewish friends, one with whom I am very close. I’ve worked at Jewish Community Centers in two different states for over 10 years. My experiences and interactions with Jews have been on par with any other group of people. Politically speaking, I didn’t have anything to do with Israel becoming a state, and I certainly do not begrudge it either. For the sake of peace and human decency I am both pro Israel and pro Palestine. As the region goes, there has been dirt done on both sides. The history is centuries old and extremely complicated. Often, the players making the decisions are evil power hungry people. If an Israeli or Palestinian leader is not a radical, his own party is subject to oust him. Logic tells me because Israel has the most funding, assets, weapons, and technology – (especially from the United States) they tend to get better press and empathy. The White Evangelical movement is also an ally. On the other hand, Israel is surrounded by countries that hate them. Some for perhaps ‘legitimate’ reasons and some over religious bullshit. But I digress. Hopefully you get my point. I don’t proclaim to be a scholar in these matters. But I understand a little history and the human condition.

Recently, LeBron James used Instagram to make a statement about his competitive drive for success. He used a rap lyric from 21 Savage, “We been getting that Jewish money, Everything is Kosher.”

In the art of Hip Hop, lyrical gymnastics and word play are clever ways to describe narratives and make points. In the eyes of James and Savage, everything about that lyric was complimentary to Jews – something to aspire to. It was not to imply a hyperbolic narrative that every Jew has generational wealth. Understanding nuance, I posted to my Facebook page that LeBron was right to apologize – simply because as a Non Jew he can’t tell them what to be offended by. I realize that all Jews were not offended. I know of many who were not. But for those who were there is nothing wrong with owning the offense and correcting it.

The reason some Jews were offended is because they feel the words ‘Jews and money’ reinforce stereotypes of Jews controlling the media and or the world. It’s part of the narrative that fuels anti Semitic hate among people who wish them harm. I get that. And my message to Jews is this: Do you want to know how to dispel the myth that Jews run the media and control the world? Stop pressuring groups like the Civil Rights Museum on who they should honor!  Otherwise, you are in effect doing exactly what you hate being accused of; manipulating an organization, people and process that has nothing to do with you.

Listen, when people like me say they are pro Palestine having a peaceful homeland, they are not saying to hell with Israel! Protecting yourselves is expected. But don’t act like everything Israel has done in the region is right! Israel has as many hard asses and goons as any other group of people.  Don’t even get me started on Benjamin Netanyahu. Bibi has plenty of shit in his own game. But speaking against his criminal actions should get me fired or disqualify me from an award or a speaking engagement? (Like CNN did Mark Lamont Hill) GTFOH! Since I’ve worked at the Jewish Centers in St. Louis and Columbus, I’ve witnessed all kinds of programs for writers, performers, intellectuals, scholars, and so on. I have never heard of a Black organization trying to get them to shitcan one of your guest. What gives you the right to propose shitcanning one of ours?  If you don’t like Angela Davis, don’t invite her to your programs! If you care to see where she’s coming from, engage her, or set up a meet! I believe you as proponents know where she’s coming from. And if she doesn’t say Israel can do whatever the fuck it wants and damn the Palestinians, then you got beef with her. You overstepped your bounds! This isn’t the way to make friends out of the Black community.

And to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; you guys are cowards! I don’t know if it’s about the funding or something else. But at some point you have to learn to stand on the legacy for which you claim. You wrote in your statement that “..we believe this decision is consistent with the ideals of the award’s namesake, Rev. Shuttlesworth.” But that’s bullshit! Fred Shuttlesworth was a personal friend of mine.  I’ve had days and days of conversations with him about the movement. He personally told me all the details of when his home was bombed by the Klan. I’ll tell you one thing about Fred. He was politically savvy but not politically expedient! He didn’t compromise with any sort of foolishness! So don’t put your decision to diss Angela Davis on him! You own that shit yourself! Angela Davis is an ICON in our community! For decades she has given her life to the righteous cause of black people. Fred would absolutely honor her! You missed out on a great opportunity! And your lack of integrity is disgusting! Shame on you!

Ice Cube said almost 30 years ago, “Cause you can’t be the Nigga 4 Life crew – With a white Jew tellin’ you what to do!”

 

***Update: See Angela Davis’ response on an interview with Democracy Now

Shoutout to Jewish Voice for Peace and other Jewish people and organizations for supporting Angela Davis!  We know you are out there!

 

 

 

 

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Contradictions and Compartmentalization of the Jameis Winston FSU Case

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After the state attorney announced that there would be no charges in the Jameis Winston case, I listened to a Miami based sports radio talk show via podcast.  The context was ‘IF’ the accuser in the case made up the story regarding sexual assault, would you feel bad or sorry for her?  Of the three person set of host, two said they would and one said he wouldn’t.  One of the host assessed, (paraphrasing)  “I don’t believe at her age she would have really thought this all the way through.”  Another host said, “If it’s true that she made it up she has to live with that in front of her family, in front of her father for the rest of her life.”  The third host said he wouldn’t feel sorry for her at all.  His argument was that there is no excuse for making a false allegation of rape.  And that the consequences of what could have happened to the accused far outweigh any ‘reason’ she may have had.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

I am a man with a wife, a mother, two sisters and five daughters.  I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that most of the women I know have experienced some form of sexual assault or abuse.  Sexual abuse towards women is horrifically pervasive to the point that men should recognize that the question is not how many women you know who have been sexual assaulted in some form or fashion.  It’s how many do you know that haven’t?!  This is NOT hyperbole either.  The subject matter has hit home for me several times over.  I don’t envy women at all.  It is a fact that our society, hell our world is stacked full of misogyny.  Women are the last and the least recognized of the worldwide historically persecuted and oppressed people.  It’s not so easily recognized either as it’s so pervasively normal to attack and witness attacks on women’s value and character.  Sexually speaking, men have dominated women for centuries from female genital mutilation which still goes on in many cultures, to rapes on college campuses, in the military, so called ‘date rapes’ within acquaintances, relationships, marriages and so on.  Needless to say, us MEN need to re-evaluate and assess ourselves and ask ourselves if we are treating the women in our lives with the proper respect and dignity they deserve.  Most of the time the answer is, “Hell no!”  Let’s start there!

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RESPECT:

Giving women the credit they deserve, I have to acknowledge that they have held down the families, the churches, and have still risen to great places of power in society.  In so many ways they have had to learn a develop a cunningness about themselves to advance in what James Brown called, “A Man’s World.”  Women have skills and mental expertise that men simply don’t.  They know men’s strengths and weaknesses inherently.  They can read us like books when they really pay attention.  And yet, the sophistication of the female species is one men can rarely grasp.  I’ve always said that smart men rule the world, but wise women rule men.  (thus ruling the world by default without the hassle) Without them there is a missing element essential to our existence.

TABU:

I think it’s a good thing that mainstream media didn’t go in on the accuser despite the details of the Winston case which revealed she pursued and attached herself to the QB seeking sex.  I think this was in deference to the challenges women have had to deal with day to day.  I imagine they believe that this case shouldn’t take the focus or deter recognition of the legitimate sexual assault victims.  (see statistics)

What should not go unsaid however, is that women are sexual beings.  They enjoy sex.  They are not just submissives but also dominates.  This is a newsflash to many Americans as we tend to view women and women’s bodies from a religiously conservative perspective.  Thus the dichotomy of boys sowing oats for sexual explorations while women’s are not afforded the same privilege.  I can’t even imagine how hard it is for women to navigate through these messages growing up.  Nevertheless, women and their sexuality eventually manifest through the cracks.  They get it in even in the most male dominated venues.

So called ‘groupies’ have existed for decades.  Just look at any episode of Behind The Music.  Women used to throw their panties at Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye and Tom Jones concerts.  There are women who seek the affections of ‘ballers,’ (high school, college and pro.)  At FSU they call them, “Cleat Chasers”.   (Yes they have a name for it.)  Many are very deliberate in the fashion in which they pursue and dare I say attempt to conquer their targets.

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Look at someone like Karrine Steffans.  She wrote a book on how she sexually conquered dozens of celebrities.  She bragged about it.  And yet when she was on the Tom Joyner morning show was got offended and hung up the phone when Jay Anthony Brown referred to her as “Super Head.”  She gave herself that name and was promoting a second ‘tell all’ sexual conquest book.  But she was offended as if Jay was disrespecting her.  Are you kidding me?  But she is hardly the only one.

As this relates to the Winston case, from the pages in the report, she was not only a willing participant, but initiated and pursued the entire event.  Along the way something happened that caused her to make a decision to tell a plethora of false narratives that could have put an innocent man in jail and ruin his reputation.  Sexual promiscuity among young people is a side issue worthy of debate.  Winston himself said he has some growing up to do.  But otherwise, the only thing that happened was a consensual sexual experience between consenting adults.  The only victim in this case was a man who was accused of taking something from her that she didn’t generously give.

To go even deeper specifically as it relates to racial matters, most of my adult life I’ve heard older black folk tell their sons before they go to college, “Don’t go messing with them white girls when you get in that school.”  Translation: There is no trouble for a young black male like ‘white girl’ trouble.  Having an interracial relationship is one thing, but if it turns negative and the authorities get involved, you’re a gonner!  Even if you don’t make jail the chances of getting kicked out of school are massive.  The black male is the one going to catch hell regardless of what really happened.   Or as Ice Cube said, “Smilin’ cuz you out on a date, But sooner or later, the bit#!’ll yell rape.  Soon as daddy founds out you a jigaboo, he’ll kill like he did Emmitt Till.”  (Don’t shoot the messenger.)

If the state attorney decided to take this case to a grand jury, chances are Winston would have been charged.  A grand jury will indict anything including my pet cockatiel.  Sure we would have found out about the details a year or so later during trial.  If he would have been found innocent, (cause that’s not a sure thing) in the meantime at best, Winston would have been dismissed from the team, possibly from school and his family name tainted for life.  His sexual cavalierness is not justification for suffering a lie and being dragged through the legal system.

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FINALLY:

This case should be another example of why we need to educate young people on sex, sexuality, education and self respect.  Men have used and abused women as sexual objects for centuries.  This must stop if we are ever to be about anything seriously. Women need to be able to express their own sexuality freely as validated people without the stereotypes of being called sluts, whores etc.

I as a man am willing to hold sound off in holding other men responsible for the way we have disrespected and abused women over time.  Equally so, women should hold women accountable, in calling out those who use sex as a means of weaponry.  Women who willingly do the deed, then tell lies to protect their reputation from friends, boyfriends and parents.

‘Why I Refuse To Join A Church (Part 2)

Go to church but they tease us, with a picture of a blue-eyed Jesus!  –  Ice Cube

Well, sort of.  I don’t take these lyrics from Ice Cube’s rant from his classical African-American community critique “Us” as an issue of merely color; but rather ideology.

I tried to make this point in the last church I belonged to.  Our services were tailored in a fashion that allowed us to ask questions or make comments during the sermon.  As you can imagine, that made for some memorable experiences, both for the good and not so good.  At the time George W. Bush was campaigning for a  second term in the White House.  There was a heavy religious fervor regarding that election too.  Both Catholic and Protestant organizations were galvanized similarly (if not more) than they were in 2000.

My comment during the service was that I found the election season offered at least two different Jesuses.  Immediately when I said it there were cat calls from the other members.  “Oh no, there is only ONE Jesus.”  I think they thought I was being literal.  And I found it hard to explain, as I was cut off continuously.  My point was that while most Christian churches share the same basic bible for scripture references, Jesus’ points of emphasis and agenda seemed to go down racial, class, social and political divides.

I recall visiting a prominent church in South St. Louis when the subject of the election came up.  The pastor of the church said, “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  But I will say that I’m not voting for someone who is for killing babies.”

I thought to myself, “Wow, I can understand Jesus being bent about abortion, but he’s not bent about torture or bombings of civilian communities?  What about all of the other injustices and crimes against humanity out there perpetrated by men for political or ideological reasons?  Is that ultimately what this election is about?”  I’ll get back to that.

Later I attended a different church for a men’s breakfast.  As usual when the subject of men come up at such an event it’s natural for the meaning of manhood and how it’s manifested in society to be brought up.  Some of the speakers made a point of making sure that homosexuality and manhood had nothing in common.  In doing so words and phrases to describe gays or being gay were slung around.  They consisted of standards such as ‘sweet’ ‘sissies’ and ‘punks’ to name a few.  Then there was the usual reference to Adam and Steve.

While all of these black macho evangelical males “amen’d” and approved of this name calling, I raised my hand and asked a question:

(Paraphrasing)

“I hear all of this name and cat calling regarding the homosexual community.  And while I respect the fact that your brand of faith entitles you the right to have your own opinion that homosexuality is a sin, do you honestly believe that Jesus would endorse the name calling that some of you are using such as ‘sissy,’ ‘punk’ or even ‘fags?’ “ 

At that point the pastor was silent.  To speak boldly like this against the precepts of leadership in a powerful black church is not something grinned upon.  But one of the elders jumped in quickly to the rescue.  With anger he burst from his seat and started spouting off scriptures in Leviticus and how homosexuality was a sin and that God didn’t like it and neither should any Christian.  He was practically foaming at the mouth from the front of the sanctuary as he looked towards my way in the back.

I reiterated:

“I’m not discussing the validity or non validation of homosexuality as a sin.  What I am asking… is that if there were homosexuals in this congregation, (and chances are there one or more among this group of men) if I were a homosexual who was struggling with my sexual identity vs. what I believe my faith allows, would your words as well as your spiritual disposition attract me to you as a source of help, or would I be repulsed, insulted or put off by your tone?  Would Jesus address a person who happens to be a homosexual with the names you choose along with your mocking tone?”  

DEAD SILENCE in the congregation.  I think some thought a fight was about to ensue.

The elder grew more angry, then shouted something else before the pastor got up and addressed my question… sort of.

“I understand what you are saying brother.  And perhaps you are right that we can do better with the name calling.  But let me be clear, homosexuality is a sin.  Now let’s move on.” 

This, among other things at that time, drew me to the conclusion that as far as the evangelical community was concerned, all God/Jesus really cared about were what I called the ‘Big 3’  Abortion, Homosexuality, and Stem Cell Research- all of which He was against.

That’s right.  Let it be known henceforth that these are the bullet points on Jesus’ hit list.  But was it really? 

The question of Jesus and the identification of his agenda have been going on thousands of years, right?  In the scriptures he seemed to identify it himself:

Matthew 16:13-15

13 Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is?

   14 And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

   15 He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am?

   16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

In my estimation, this question is still the most divisive among Christian believers.  Who Jesus is- a direct result of what he endorses- stands for, evangelizes, and lives by.  As Christians (followers or Disciples of Christ) by very definition that agenda should translate into their own.  And this is where confusion and division has obviously settled in.

Let’s take it step by step.  While these are not absolute, I think we can agree that these are generally the focus, missions, and nature of Jesus, depending on the demographics and world view of the worshipper. 

During slavery a certain segment of the population believed that Jesus endorsed the enslavement of Africans which included selling, beating, raping and murdering people that Jesus/God created.  During this same period the slaves (often taught Christianity either from Catholics in Africa or Protestant enslaver in America) believed that Jesus would deliver them from their oppression. 

Similarly, during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, The KKK (who defined themselves a Christian organization) believed as they do today that Jesus choose them to be superior, while other nationalities are inferior. Many churches, both black and white, believed that Jesus created, loves and values all men equally. 

These days we face many of the same challenges.  Some upwardly mobile church dogma believe that Jesus favors the wealthy while others believe Jesus is concerned for the poor.  

Let me give you a biblical example and how it may play out today:

John 6:5-14

5When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

   6And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

   7Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

   8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

   9There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

   10And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

   11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

   12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

  13Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

   14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

 Newt Gingrich

If something like this were to happen, one side of the Christian agenda would report it this way:

Boy donates food, Jesus takes the little and performs a miracle to serve thousands.  The people rejoice.

Another Christian agenda would report it this way:

Unemployed multitude threaten to mug little righteous boy who has food.  Jesus the self-appointed welfare socialist takes the food away from the one who had in order to spread the wealth.  Claims of a miracle go unsubstantiated, but Newt Gingrich says that Jesus should face prosecution for robbery.  Sara Palin said Jesus is an illegal alien- “just look at his name”- (Pronounced Hey-Seuss) and bad for American values.  Finally, Rush Limbaugh called him “The Magic Hebrew.” 

Ok (chuckle) I’m having a little fun with this.  But you get my point.  This conversation has political ramifications, but in this context it’s not political at all. 

I have attended many of these churches during my lifetime so I speak with experience.

The evidence shows that our depiction of Jesus, given his world view, is something either given to us by others or something we decide upon ourselves- based on our own background- sociopolitical, socioeconomic and dogmatic vantage point.  Christians decide which Jesus to follow based on what they are comfortable with.  That’s right.  Believe it or not, Christians have pretty much picked their own Jesus to worship and follow based on their own accepted set of criteria.

For those living in inner cities, their Jesus cares about the poor; thought not exclusively.  For many living in upper class neighborhoods, Jesus wants you to have riches.   Many ministers I know believe and teach directly that the level that God shows his favor and blessings upon you, and the very proof of your own level of faith is a direct result of the believer’s financial status.

 Rev Ike

Some Christians promote charity and believe that government should help with social causes.  Other Christians are for cutting any and everything having to do with helping those less fortunate.  It’s happening in this country in a big way right now.  I’m not making a judgment one way or the other but more asking why is it that so-called liberal Christians believe one thing while conservative Christians believe something else entirely – while reading the same bible?

I’ve heard it said that it’s up to moderate Muslims to speak out against radical Muslims who are for violent and other unrighteous acts done in their name.  While I agree with that I rarely see Christians doing the same. 

When have you heard of moderate Christians speaking out against Pastor Steve Anderson and Rev. Wiley Drake  for praying that President Obama dies?  Have you ever been up late and night and seen those ministry programs where they offer to sell you God’s blessing for $500-$1000?

So why not just join a church that chooses a Jesus I am comfortable with?

On the one hand, that sounds kind of attractive, right?  But on the other, I’m not so sure about that.  My own personal evangelical bent lends me to believe that God, by virture of being the creator of the universe (which includes my very existence), has the authority to demand without question first and foremost that he be in charge.  If that is the case I certainly don’t need to align myself with a church that simply makes me comfortable.  Furthermore, I can’t fathom believing in a gospel that is not transferable to any and all communities in the world.   I can’t believe a message in College Park, Georgia that could not be preached in the slums of Calcutta, India just because the economic opportunities are not the same.

The bottom line in my view is that Jesus (as we know him) has been bastardized and transformed into a political football, tossed to and fro by whoever wields his name.  He’s been labeled like soup, and packaged for consumption like a Happy Meal or an Ipad too often for the purposes of manipulation, domination, or deceit.  That’s not to say all churches, ministers, or parishioners, liberal or conservative, are all bad or good.   But what is the difference in that or any other religious group that have segments that do good work?   The point for me is that following God as I want to know him is so profoundly vital to my own spiritual growth and well-being, dogmatic preferences and spiritual limitations cancel my mere desire to belong in such a  group.

Read Why I Refuse To Join A Church Part 1 here.



Music Week:The Irony of Hip Hop, Gangster Rap, and Hollywood Success

 

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Growing up during the origins of rap music and what we now call hip hop, I witnessed an art which themes started with, dancing and bragging about personal likes and lighthearted fun.  Later, it expanded as some artist got into heavier subjects dealing with poverty, crime and life in the streets.  “The Message,” by Grandmaster Flash comes to mind.  Then along came the soap opera kind of rap like UTFO’s “Roxanne Roxanne” and Roxanne’s own response.  By the late 80’s, groups like Public Enemy were schooling us about politics and NWA brought a whole new change to the game by bringing gang life rhetoric and storytelling from Compton, California to the world.  I would say to some degree this was hip hop at its heights.  Perhaps I’m a bit aged though.  We still have an element of ghetto life and gangster rap out there, but it lacks the charisma and style of people like Mr. Scarface and The Ghetto Boys. 

 

 

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Hip hop has taken its share of hits from the public and some of it very valid.  From Tipper Gore to many parents, church goers, and culture critics, the lyrics and messages within the music has been widely critiqued and criticized.  Many blame hip hop for the ills of the black community and often in the world.  Sometimes it can be so ridiculous, as Ice Cube said on one of the songs from his new CD, “Raw Footage”, “If I shoot up the college, ain’t nothing to it – gangster rap made me do it.” Cube is one of my favorite rappers because he speaks truth to power.  And even when he’s hard, narcissistic, or brutish he is still creative and entertaining.

 

 

The ironic thing about the rap game now, is its being disdained by a large part of mainstream society when it comes to the content of the music – while on the other hand many artist are being embraced by that same society when it comes to rappers being portrayed in television and cinema. 

 

You got 50 Cent making a movie about his life and getting shot.  Ice-T did a song called, “Cop Killers,” that had almost the whole fraternity of law enforcement officers up in arms.  Now he has played an undercover narcotic officer, transferred to the Special Victims Unit on Law and Order SVU since 2000.  His character is even a Republican.  Maybe John McCain will use Ice’s character to appeal to the black audience.  SIKE!  I don’t know that McCain knows black people exist in this country.  But I digress.

 

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The MOST ironic figure in all of this is the above mentioned Ice Cube.  One of the founding members of the group NWA and one of  it’s primary writers, Cube doled out other American and law enforcement favorites, “F*ck The Police.” After the NWA days, Cube did his own solo projects and none of them have softened up in the least.  The lyrics are still sharp and the language is just as gritty.  Regardless not only has he done the “Friday” and “Barbershop” series, he done the films, “Are We There Yet?’ and “Are We Done Yet?” These are family favorites.  Cube has directed, written or produced 16 films, and after next years, “Welcome Back, Kotter,” where he will play Gabe Kaplan’s teaching character from the 70s sitcom and B.A. Baracus on the film The A-Team, he will have acted in 27.  His current film is another feel good family project, “The Longshots.” 

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This proves that America hates and love’s its hip hop stars.  They are intrigued at their talent but only appreciate it most when it fits their level of comfort.